Did you watch NFL Network’s coverage of the Broncos-Chargers game Thursday night? If so, you saw a heaping helping of discussion about the Redskins during the pregame show, and another glop of Redskins coverage during halftime. Forget about winning the offseason; the Redskins are dominating NFL news in mid-December, even with one of the league’s worst records.
One particular debate, among four former players during the pregame show, was particularly electric, because several of them — chiefly Michael Irvin — got pretty heated. It started when Kurt Warner asked his fellow panelists what Mike Shanahan’s benching of Robert Griffin III would do to the team’s locker room.
“ To me, this undermines your leadership role,” Warner said. “How do I lead my guys when you don’t even let me go out on the field and go to battle with them?”
“This is so wrong in so many ways, what Mike Shanahan is doing,” Marshall Faulk then said. “Understand this: there’s some other people that you can pull. Your offensive line, those hits, why aren’t you benching any of those guys? Let’s just talk about the playcaller: why hasn’t he had the plays taken away from him, or the ability to call the plays? There’s so many fingers to be pointed, and when you start with the one guy that’s dynamic, that’s your leader, that’s the face of your franchise, it’s a power play. That’s what it begins, it begins a power play. I guarantee you this would not have happened [in Denver], with John Elway. No way no how he would have pulled John Elway and said we want to rest John, we don’t want to get him hurt.”
“RGIII needed a little humble pie,” said Deion Sanders, as the set’s irony detectors exploded all around him. “We all know what’s happening behind the curtain. Some of his teammates on the team say he got a little bit beside himself in his fame. He may have needed a little humble pie. And nobody’s saying anything about this defense, which is horrible. Let’s not put all this stuff on Kyle Shanahan or RGIII or the special teams. This defense is giving up 31 a game. I’ve gots to get 32 just to stay in the game. Let’s get that straight. All of us, in some form or fashion during our career, we’re humbled at some point. Either it comes early or it comes late. He’s getting his now, and I’m sure he’s gonna bounce back.”
Then came Michael Irvin, and I won’t put this in all caps, but that’s basically how it was delivered.
“I’ve always spoke highly and thought highly of Mike Shanahan,” Irvin said. “Check the tapes, go back as far as you want. But I’m so disappointed in what I’m seeing. This is personal, and I don’t care what you say. And there’s no way, no way, you sit your quarterback RGIII in his second season. We all know that Cam Newton went through a second season that wasn’t quite what it [could have been], but look at what Cam’s doing now. It is amazing to me. And here’s something nobody is talking about: This is the third person that Mike Shanahan has had an issue with that was a star player with the Washington Redskins. I understand, coaches come in and they want to grab control, and they usually go after a star player to get control. Donovan, Albert Haynesworth – say what you will, say what you will – and now RGIII.
“RGIII’s handling it the best he can,” Irvin continued. “Donovan said something like this was going to go down, so I’m not giving Mike Shanahan a pass when somebody predicted what’s happening right now to this young man. You are TEARING HIM DOWN. I doubt that any man can come back from this, walking around three weeks around these guys that you have to lead. And I don’t want to hear about teammates either; we understand as teammates and players, quarterbacks DO get special treatment. You don’t see people arguing when Peyton Manning or Tom Brady gets it; I don’t want you arguing when this kid gets it. He’s the quarterback, and the rest of us brothers have to understand that and treat him as such. I’ve got an issue with all of it. … You think they could do this to Andrew Luck? Let me ask you that, you think they could do this to Luck?”
“If this was based on play, then guess what, you’ve got a lot of other players you should be replacing as well,” Faulk said. “You want to know why nobody would say this about Andrew Luck? Because the organization would get rid of that somebody. Listen, we know stuff about quarterbacks. We know stuff about quarterbacks. People know stuff about star players. And it doesn’t leave the locker room. And if it does, THAT PERSON leaves the locker room, who let that out.”
Unless that person is the coach, apparently.